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Provincializing Global History

Money, Ideas, and Things in the Languedoc, 1680-1830

James Gerard Livesey


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A microhistory of eighteenth-century systemic change that places ordinary French lives alongside global advances
Provincializing Global History explores the subtle transformation of the coastal province of the Languedoc in the eighteenth century. Mining a wealth of archival sources, James Livesey unveils how provincial elites and peasant households unwittingly created new practices. Managing local political institutions, establishing new credit systems, building networks of natural historians, and introducing new plants and farm machinery to the region opened up the inhabitants of the province to new norms and standards. The practices were gradually embedded in daily life and allowed the province to negotiate the new worlds of industrial society and capitalism.

Praise For Provincializing Global History: Money, Ideas, and Things in the Languedoc, 1680-1830

“Each chapter is, itself, a tour de force, and the book as a whole is a major triumph. Livesey plumbs the depths of ordinary lives in a rather nondescript province of Europe to build a convincing argument about why and how world history took the trajectory it did after 1800.”—Rafe Blaufarb, Florida State University

"Livesey blends cultural history, financial history, the history of science and technology, and politics in a brilliant tableau of innovation in the eighteenth century. He decisively shows that we cannot understand the success of modernity without recognizing how much innovation was local, driven by ordinary people challenging the authority of tradition."—Jack A. Goldstone, author of Why Europe?

“Repertoires of knowledge star in this rich and imaginative account.  Through Livesey’s eyes – and incredible archival work—we understand how they could connect 18th century provincial France to a globalizing world.”—Christine Desan, Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism

Yale University Press, 9780300237160, 224pp.

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

About the Author

James Livesey is professor of global history and dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Dundee in Scotland. He is the author of several books, including Making Democracy in the French Revolution and Civil Society and Empire.